I saw this on io9 over the weekend and couldn’t resist:a poster created by Michael Mateyko of Komboh for Emerald City Comicon depicting the membership of Marvel’s the Avengers over the past 50 years. It’s available as a print at their Society 6 store.
Venom? Dr. Octopus? They’ll allow anyone in these days.
Marvel NOW! is not half bad! In fact, from this new vantage point where we’ve mostly seen the first major debuts roll out through November, I can say that it’s a bigger success than the Heroic Age. There’s been some significant changes to theme and tone of our superheroes while still leaving continuity intact and everyone recognizable to the public. Everything that happened in the past few months of comics has carried over into the NOW!, we’re just looking at it with a new style, a fresh coat of paint and, of course, oodles of variant covers.
Story styles and artistic choices come and go, and while we might love a particular run or artist team, we have to adapt and move into more modern and evolving ideas for the Marvel Universe. Sure, I’m not too on board with the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy series because I really enjoyed their previous iteration, but if you look at the last series, it was a far cry from what it was when it started. Why not give the new book a chance and see if it can hook me in all over again? Losing Peter Parker as Spider-Man (for a while) is a big deal, but why not watch just to see how Dan Slott pulls this whole thing off? Change is good is what I’m trying to say, and Marvel NOW!, while still essentially the same heroes and villains we know and love, is also a lot of change.
It’s weird to think that Brian Michael Bendis pretty much set the Avengers for the modern era. Yes, great storytellers had come before to establish what we all know and love about Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, but Bendis really did blow all that up and rebuilt Marvel’s premier super-team from the ground up. From Stark Tower to the essential leadership of Captain America and Iron Man to who’s on the roster and why, to endless, endless lunches, most new comic readers know of the Avengers through Bendis’ work. He’s the man who made us read the book, for better or for worse and for six years, he’s been the bottom line in Earth’s Mightiest Heroism. It’s a really tough act to follow, but if anyone is going to make us say “Bendis who?” in the next few months, it’s Jonathan Hickman. Starting from the first issue (on sale this week!), there’s a stage being set that will change the way we view the Avengers and their place in the grand scheme of the universe.
But who are the Avengers? What does it mean to join their ranks? How is it that, within the confines of a single issue, we’ve learned the essential secret to this new NOW! series? Click on, Dear Reader, and I will explain.
WARNING: I’ll be talking about the contents of Avengers #1, but you still probably want to read Avengers #1 and see for yourself if any of my theories match up. So grab a copy and read along!
We’ve featured the Brazilian artist Butcher Billy a couple of times in Art Barrage; he’s an illustrator whose work demonstrates a keen eye for modern culture and a wicked sense of humor. His latest portfolio of work, posted at the creative network Behance, is “The Superhero Media Crossover Project,” a collection of images inserting comic art into stills taken from their movie adaptations. It’s very effective, and strangely moving, for this fan of classic comic art, anyway. These images demonstrate what, to me, is missing in just about every comics-to-film adaptation — a little pop-art brightness and fizz (Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. The World being the only one in recent times to get a pass on this matter — am I really the only one who wants to see sound effects rather than just hearing them?). In Billy’s own words:
The Avengers star Jeremy Renner hosted Saturday Night Live this weekend, bringing with him not only a ratings boost — it was the second-highest rated episode of the season — but also a send-up of Marvel’s $1.5 billion blockbuster. The skit lampoons Hawkeye’s contributions to Earth’s Mightiest Heroes as the archer runs out of arrows at a crucial time in their battle against the Chitauri. “I’m all out of arrows, I don’t have any more,” Hawkeye says. “So, uh, I guess I’m done, right? All right, I’ll be in the car. Stay safe!”
My good friend Robin Brenner is an expert on graphic novels (she’s a former Eisner Awards judge) and the young-adult librarian at the Brookline, Massachusetts, public library. She’s also very clever with her hands, as you can see from these book hedgehogs she made from discarded books.
The basic algorithm for making book hedgehogs is pretty simple, but Robin took it a step further and came up with a whole array of personalized hedgehogs based on comics characters. Here are some close-ups, including the tiny bow and arrows for the Hawkeye hedgehog, and here is a gallery of more characters. It’s amazing what you can do with an old book, some duct tape, and plenty of imagination!
Oh, sure, he may have enslaved Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig, wreaked havoc on
Cleveland Stuttgart, Germany, and Cleveland New York City, and killed Agent Phil Coulson in Marvel’s The Avengers, but deep down Loki is a pretty swell guy. Er, god.
For proof you need look no further than this week’s Journey Into Mystery #645, which marks the departure of writer Kieron Gillen, whose take of “Kid Loki” has made the pint-size god of mischief beloved by Tumblr users the world over. Gillen’s final “Journey Into Stationery” letter page starts with a laudatory message from a certain Tom Hiddleston, who knows a thing or two about Loki:
You’d probably already heard that Robert Goodin’s excellent and influential blog Covered was in the business of winding down, but the final curtain has now come down. Since announcing on Sept. 16 that he was intending to end the blog, Goodin has run four entries by Steve Rude, and a couple by Art Adams. Now that’s how to go out in style.
Comics | Auction prices for comics and original comics art have soared over the past few years, ever since a copy of Action Comics #1 broke the $1-million mark in 2010. Barry Sandoval of Heritage Auctions (admittedly, not a disinterested party) and Michael Zapcic of the comics shop Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash discuss why that happened—and why prices are likely to stay high. [Underwire]
Creators | Brian Michael Bendis looks back on his eight-year run on Marvel’s Avengers franchise. [Marvel.com]
I don’t know all the details because I don’t read Russian, but the video speaks for itself. Remote-control, working Helicarriers transcend the language barrier. In the comments, the creator mentions that the model’s battery life is six to seven minutes, but I wouldn’t recommend reading too far down. It’s amazing how people can find negative things to say about something as completely awesome as this.
It turns out a planetary invasion by Loki and his Chitauri allies was only the beginning of Nick Fury’s problems.
Now a German manufacturer of luxury travel briefcases is suing Marvel and Disney’s Buena Vista Home Entertainment over the attaché case used by the S.H.I.E.L.D. director in the billion-dollar blockbuster The Avengers.
Hollywood, Esq. reports that Rimowa GmbH, which provided the studio with an aluminum Topas attaché case for Samuel L. Jackson to carry in the film, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in California claiming that Marvel damaged the company’s trademark by then manufacturing replicas for the “Marvel Cinematic Universe: Phase One — Avengers Assembled” limited-edition box set. Arriving Sept. 25, the collection comes “complete with glowing Tesseract” and an “exclusive replica of Nick Fury’s iconic briefcase.”
Thanks to Super Punch, I’m now obsessed with Noelle Stevenson‘s illustrations of the Badass Scooby Gang, which have nothing to do with Buffy the Vampire Slayer and everything to do with the 1960s-’70s Hanna-Barbera cartoon. While I like the latest piece, in which Stevenson’s version of the Mystery Inc. bunch heads to the beach, I’m really taken by some of the older pieces, which recast the characters as something between an old-school criminal crew and and a team of spies, complete with a tattooed, cigarette-smoking Daphne, who’s apparently exchanged “danger-prone” for “dangerous.” I’m itching to see these spun off into a parody project, a la The Venture Bros.
If Freddie Jones Jr. in trunks and an ascot aren’t to your liking, Stevenson also has a series of endearing illustrations prominently featuring Hawkeye from Marvel’s The Avengers.
Conventions | Three-day tickets went on sale this week for New York Comic Con. Confirmed guests so far include Geoff Johns, Jim Lee, Mike Mignola and Josh Gates. [Collider.com]
Publishing | The revelation that DC’s newly reintroduced Green Lantern Alan Scott is gay has moved Christian comic publisher Art Ayris, who is also the executive pastor of a Baptist church, to announce that his company Kingstone Media won’t be including gay characters in its lineup: “If Kingstone is the only comic book company in America doing it, we will stand for the things God says are godly and stand against things that clearly fall under the category of sin.” [Baptist Press]
Retailing | The Avengers movie seems to be bringing new customers into comics stores looking for Marvel titles, at least in Maryland. Pullbox requests for Marvel comics are also up, suggesting some of the uptick is from existing customers. [The Star Democrat]
Conventions | New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has mothballed plans for a giant convention center in Queens, leaving the unlovely, unloved, but well-situated Javits Center as the home of New York Comic-Con for the near future. [The New York Times, via The Beat]
Publishing | Alex Klein sees the “outing” of Green Lantern Alan Scott as a desperate move to boost sales by a publisher whose market share is dropping: “Switching up sexual orientation is a cunning way of compensating for flagging sales and aging characters. In the meantime, the industry is rebalancing: toward independent publishers, author ownership, and cross-platform digital tie-ins. As small studios sap talent from the giant conglomerates, comics are changing—and there’s a lot of money to be made in the process—just not in the comics themselves.” And he talks to The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman and Image publisher Eric Stephenson about what they can do that the Big Two can’t. [The Daily Beast]
Conventions | ReedPOP has officially announced it will fold the New York Anime Festival into New York Comic Con, rather than continue them as separate events held at the same location. “This move has nothing to do with our loyalty or commitment to the anime community and everything to do with the growth and identity of New York Comic Con as a leading pop culture event,” ReedPOP’s Lance Fensterman said in a statement. “NYCC embraces all elements of the pop culture world, including anime, and we have evolved to a point where the existence of NYAF outside our universe is almost a contradiction. We will be better able to serve the anime community from within the NYCC infra-structure rather than have a show which is separate and which will always be dwarfed by everything that New York Comic Con represents and is.” [press release]
Passings | Cartoonist Jim Unger, whose one-panel comic Herman served as an inspiration for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, passed away Monday at his home in British Columbia. He was 75. The comic appeared in about 600 newspapers worldwide from 1974 until Unger’s retirement in 1992. [The Daily Cartoonist]
The article everyone was talking — and tweeting — about this weekend was Tim Marchman’s scathing critique of superhero comics, which purported to be a review of Christopher Irving and Seth Kushner’s new book Leaping Tall Buildings but in fact barely mentioned the book and went straight to a critique of the comics industry. Marchman starts by pointing out that despite the popularity of The Avengers movie, sales of superhero comics are far below their 1990s levels:
If no cultural barrier prevents a public that clearly loves its superheroes from picking up a new Avengers comic, why don’t more people do so? The main reasons are obvious: It is for sale not in a real bookstore but in a specialty shop, and it is clumsily drawn, poorly written and incomprehensible to anyone not steeped in years of arcane mythology.
There’s a lot more, though, and the piece is well worth a read, whether you agree with it or not. Reaction seems to be mixed in the comics blogosphere so far — I would say everyone finds something to disagree with, but there are a lot of attaboys as well. Todd Allen posts excerpts from the column at The Beat, along with some tweets between Marchman and readers.